FAYETTE — Residents are expected to vote on the future of the town’s internet coverage and a funding cap for Starling Hall, while also electing local officials and deciding on the municipal budget during the local election and annual Town Meeting in June.

The state and local election is set for June 14, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., at Fayette Central School at 2023 Main St.

The town recently held a public meeting on questions related to the future of broadband internet service in Fayette. Residents in June are to be asked if they want to move forward with an agreement with Redzone Wireless for high-speed internet, or whether town officials should enter into an agreement with Axiom for fiber internet.

Fayette now has limited internet service, with many residents having little or no access, and officials have discussed a solution to this issue for several months.

The Redzone agreement would require the town spend $385,275, with Redzone’s share of the $1,285,380 project being $900,105. The town’s portion might be eligible for partial or total grant funding, according to officials.

According to the draft question on the town website, Axiom has estimated $3,469,715 of the total $4,030,305 project would be eligible for grant funding or setoffs, with the town’s share being $560,590.


The broadband committee has recommended appropriating an amount not to exceed $1 million to cover unexpected expenses.

Axiom’s fiber optic network would also be owned by the town and operated by a third party.

The question of which internet service to use has divided town officials. The Board of Selectmen has recommended going with Redzone, while the town’s broadband committee has supported going with Axiom.

Selectman Nathaniel Sparling said the board recommended Redzone because it is less expensive and would be completed in one to three months, while Axiom could take upwards of a year to fully install its fiber optic network.

“The difference for most of the board was not really even an option, especially being as fiscally conservative as possible,” Sparling said. “The technology seems to be at the pinnacle for both systems, with Redzone also guaranteeing their speeds.

“For us, it was a time frame issue, and a dramatic decrease in costs. The bottom line costs are difficult to even come close to comparing.”


Joe Young is a member of the town’s broadband committee and the Western Kennebec Lakes Community Broadband Association, a collective of six central Maine towns working to expand internet access in underserved areas. Young said the committee has recommended Axiom because it would be a better investment for the town.

“We feel that it is likely to be what they call future-proof,” he said. “Nothing is guaranteed forever, but we feel like it’s a better long-term solution, and it’s one that the town has an investment in that is likely to pay us back in the long term, versus just paying Redzone to do something and hoping that it works.”

Young said he believed Readfield, Vienna and Wayne, which are part of the community broadband association, are considering Axiom.

“The (broadband) group is basically waiting to see the results of town meetings to see what, if any, path forward there is for the group to work together,” Young said. “At this point, the towns have to make up their minds with what they want to do.”

An earlier draft of the broadband questions included a third option to choose neither internet service. Town Manager Mark Robinson said during a meeting in late April there was concern the structure of the questions could lead to a fractured vote, with some residents asking for the ballot to be changed.

“Theoretically, you could have 299 people vote for option 1, 299 people vote for option 2, and 300 people will vote for option 3, and option 3 will prevail and nothing will be done,” he said. “That’s a possibility.”


After discussing the ballot with town lawyers, Robinson said officials opted to offer a yes or no choice for both internet services, without the third option to reject both options.

“Voters will have the opportunity to vote yes or no on both,” he said. “So, both could be approved.”

If this occurs, he said town officials would have to decide their next steps.

The town is planning another public hearing for Tuesday, May 17, which residents can attend in person and ask about the internet questions or other municipal matters. It is set to take place at 7 p.m. at Fayette Central School and through Zoom.

Robinson said Axiom is expected to make a presentation about its internet service during the meeting, at which the proposed town budget is also to be presented.

In related matters, the School Committee is expected to finalize the proposed school budget and warrant articles May 24, and selectmen are set to approve and sign the Town Meeting warrant May 25.


The ballot is also expected to include a citizen initiative question asking if voters want to limit to $5,000 a year the funding for maintaining Starling Hall.

According to the 2022-23 proposed budget on the town website, Fayette is looking at a spending plan totaling $3,288,652, which includes the municipal, school and county budgets, and is $228,823 more than the current budget.

A majority of these increases, according to the proposed budget, are on the municipal side. The proposed school budget remains flat, at $2,084,856, and the proposed county budget includes a $2,627 increase.

Proposed increases to the municipal budget include an additional $359,515 for public works and another $59,419 for general government.

Other spending areas, such as public safety, capital reserves and debt service, have proposed decreases.

“The budget will not be flat,” Robinson said. “There will be increases. Most notably, there will be increases in general government and public works on the municipal side.”

He said these increases are due to hikes in automobile and heating fuel, and to cover increases to personnel and health insurance costs.

In the election, four candidates are vying for two open seats on the Board of Selectmen. Incumbents Lacy Badeau and Sparling are running, as are Michael Carlson and Wesley Bowen.

One seat is open on the School Committee, after being vacated by Theresa Harrington. Robinson said no nomination papers were submitted for the seat, so residents will have to vote for a write-in candidate.

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